“…we’re just fuckin’ musicians man, we just play an A chord, put a melody on it and try to put a smile on somebody’s face for an hour, you know what I mean? So it shouldn’t be anything more than that.”
From release: The Dead Daisies are a powerful musical collective created by a rotating line-up that features some of the world’s best rock musicians. Influenced by 70’s and early 80’s hard rock, The Daisies’ sound is soulful and accessible-equal parts The Faces, Bad Company and Foreigner: muscular vocals, bluesy riffs, big choruses, powerful melodies and strong hooks. Whether it was inspired by Elvis or The Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix, it always started with the music, and that’s what The Dead Daisies are all about. With stellar musicianship and pulverising live shows, fans across the globe are discovering the band that is bringing back Rock & Roll!
While the band were here in Australia recording their new album, we sat down with John Corabi for a great chat about joining The Dead Daisies, making the album ‘Revolucion’, touring Cuba, and of course his work with Motley Crue, and much more…
So after a few EP’s and a debut album The Dead Daisies are heading into album number two. Obviously you’re now involved, how did it come about that you are now fronting the band?
Prior to me joining, I don’t know what happened with some of the other members of the line-up, and it’s funny. I’ve been touring in America and Canada with my own solo band and doing the Motley ’94 record, and just got back from doing a few shows and I was slapped into reality when my wife asked me to go get some groceries so I’m coming home from grocery shopping and my phone rings and I look down and it was Marco Mendoza and I hadn’t spoken to Marco in a little while, so picked it up and we started chatting an little small talk and he said ‘listen man, I’ve got this opportunity, we’d love to have you come down and meet the guys and everything and it’s really a great situation.’ So at first I was like I don’t know, I’m pretty busy with my thing but he said well let me have management talk to you, your name has been thrown around, so I said, alright… David Edwards the manager called me and he basically reassured with me that they would work with my schedule in America and that this Dead Daisies thing would actually help complement anything that I was doing and anything I was doing would help complement The Dead Daisies so it was something that we all felt and it kind of put the wheel in my head and I thought, ok I can do this. My main concern though was meeting the guys and I knew Marco and Dizzy and Brian Tichy, but I’d never met Richard, I’d never met David Lowy, so I just wanted to kind of meet everybody and for me I’m too old in the game to be involved in something with people I don’t get along with, so I flew out to California, hung out for a weekend there, met Richard, met David, everybody was awesome, very cool to talk to and whatever. Next thing I know they were like can you go to Cuba and do some shows down there, so I flew down to Cuba, actually worked with the guys, rehearsed and also met Bernard Fowler and Darryl Jones from The Stones, they came down with us and did the shows and I just had a blast, man. So I was like ok, cool, they asked me to come here and help finish this record so here I am, everything’s awesome, it’s been great you know what I mean?
I have to mention that when you were announced as the new singer a lot of people were excited, even though we do love Jon Stevens and we grew up with his works, we were a little surprised but happy when you got the gig…
Well you know and just for the record someone asked me the other day in one of the interviews I did, they were like can you give us any insight into what happened with Jon and I go listen, if my time in Motley Crue taught me one thing, when I was in the room with Motley it was Motley’s side of the story, but if talk to Vince who I have talked to and we’re fine, we’re friends, it’s cool, talk to Vince, Vince has got a completely different picture of what happened. So I don’t know Jon, I don’t know him but I can honestly say and you can print this, I fucking love his voice, an amazing voice, great song writer, guys got talent for days… I don’t know what happened before me, nor do I care, I’m here, I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know why *laughs* do you know what I mean? Really right now at this point it’s irrelevant to me, again, oddly enough when I got the call from Marco I checked them out, I’m a facebook a like for Jon Stevens, I like his fuckin’ fan page and I think the guy’s talented. If they work it out later, awesome, if they don’t, awesome… it’s weird, just out of curiosity I’ll go on some of the pages or whatever and obviously I’m on The Dead Daisies page now and I see some of the posts and there’s a lot of people here that are a little pissed about this whole thing… it’s got nothing to do with me, not a fucking thing to do with me…
As you said you were thrown into the mix pretty quickly with the Cuba thing, but did it take you long to find your footing within the band?
No you know because honestly from doing the Motley thing… the Motley thing obviously was a great experience for me but I learned very quickly in that band that all you can do is be yourself and do the best you can do and if people dig it, they dig it, if they don’t, they don’t and you just move on… you know the coolest thing about this thing is that I still do have my solo band which is awesome, and my son is my drummer so that’s amazing and we’ve got a shit tonne of gigs as well so I really had nothing to lose. So I said, yeah I’ll go to Cuba and like I said, we got into the room, they were receptive to a lot of my ideas and this thing is very cool, it’s very easy going so everybody hears what the other guy is saying, they’re like ‘well how about this?’ and we’re like ‘you know what? fuck it, let’s try it…’ so it’s a very easy situation. So I went to Cuba and the worst part of it was just the travel, I just got done doing a gig the night before in Toronto with my band and the next day I hit the ground running in Cuba doing press, meet and greets and acoustic shows, but I was a little tired and we got through it and it was fuckin’ awesome, such a great experience, it was really cool.
Had you been aware of the bands material prior to jumping on board?
So you would have had to learn the songs pretty quickly then?
Yes and I had a few cheat sheets under me, tucked under a monitor here and there, but it was funny because my guitar tech when Marco called me, I hadn’t even heard of the band let along heard of the material, I had no idea who they were and I said something to the extent when I got in the house and I told my guitar tech and said ‘wow man, did you ever hear of a band called The Dead Daisies?’ and he’s like ‘oh yeah man, they were on tour last year with KISS and Def Leppard’ and I’m like really? Then obviously I went online and started YouTubing and googling and all that shit, but I didn’t even know who they were, I just knew the players involved were fuckin’ great players and that kind of peaked my interest. Then like I said I flew out and met them and everything was cool after that…
In being a fan of your work through The Scream, Union and of course Motley Crue, in working with a band of guys that have been in and still are in some really big bands, what’s it like bringing bits of this and that to collaborate with them in The Dead Daisies?
You know it was weird, they had three or four songs that we’ve actually recorded on this record that they wrote previously with the last singer, and I went in, I sang them, but we sat in this room right back here when we first got here and the first four or five days we just got together with acoustic guitars and really just had kind of like rough foundations for thirteen more ideas we came up with in a week. Again, it was really easy, somebody would come in with a riff, like none of the songs were complete, in the thirteen ideas other than one song that was done, all the rest, the other twelve were just a riff and I’d start scatting a melody and they’d go ‘yeah that’s awesome’ or ‘nah’ but it was easy, we just kind of put our two cents in, stirred up the soup and literally we’ve got two more songs to finish and everything sounds amazing, I’ve just been out here writing lyrics, I’m gonna go in and sing after we’re done here, but it’s been easy, man, it’s been really cool.
I did love the classic rock sound of the first Dead Daisies album, are we sticking to the same sort of thing this time around?
Yeah and it’s really funny, the chemistry here, obviously we’re all within a certain age group and we sit in a room and we’ll do something and then we go off on these tangents every now and then like ‘oh dude, god, fuck in ’76 I saw Aerosmith right after they release ‘Rocks’ and we’re all in that thing, we all grew up around that same time and like I said, I did an interview yesterday and said we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool the way that it is, it’s round, it rolls, it’s awesome… so we’re not reinventing anything but it’s just five guys that love this music that we all grew up listening to and admiring and aspiring to be like, our influences are all pretty close to the same. So we’re just having fun writing shit like Humble Pie and Foghat and Grand Funk, Queen and Aerosmith and Zeppelin and all these things, like we’re like at the end of the day nobody’s doing this anymore… well there’s a few bands that are tapping into it but we have a song that we just did yesterday, Richard had a riff and I think it’s called ‘Get Up and Get Ready’ and the whole vibe and element of the song is just like old Grand Funk *sings* and it’s just that vibe man, like I said we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just tapping into the shit that we grew up with. So yes, the album is going to be very, very much inspired by classic rock.
It’s named ‘Revolucion’ tell us a bit about the name and what it represents?
Well it was enlightening, it was weird, we were going back and we were looking at some of the photos from the trip and there’s this unjaded, untainted just love of music down there and we were in awe of the people, and they were in awe of us and it was like this chemistry and it was like after we got done doing our two shows I mean we just felt like we could do anything. Somebody came back and we were looking at the photos and we were just like why don’t we call the record ‘Revolucion’, man, and just see if we can start tapping back into that vibe and that feeling and that thing that we had in the late sixties and seventies musically and whatever. So we did a little homework and I love the photo that they have with the ‘Revolucion’ and the wall and part of it’s turned backwards and it spells love and it’s really cool, so we’re digging the vibe. It wasn’t necessarily trying to keep with the Cuban thing, we were just moved by the whole thing and we said I don’t know, fuck it, let’s just call it Revolucion. Whatever inspires you just go with it, don’t overthink it, whatever.
How has this process differed for you in making a record compared to any of your previous works?
The Scream not so much because I think this and The Scream were the two most purest things that I’ve gone into, you’ve got understand, like the Motley thing, not that we tried to write music, it was kind of the same thing we just sat in a room and jammed, but there was always that thing looming in the background, the past and the other singer and no disrespect to the guy that was here, but Vince Neil is much more recognisable celebrity and that was a lot bigger weight for me, I had to go in and was like ‘fuck, I’ve gotta replace this dude?’ and every record they sold at that point, they had already sold forty or fifty million records and they were coming off their last studio record which was ‘Feelgood’ which was massive, so I don’t want to say that there was thinking going on because we didn’t intentionally want to write a certain way, but there was a lot of shit looming in the background. The Scream on the other hand, we were just four dudes like never done this before and we were going in like green behind the ears, we had no preconceived notions of how anything could be, should be, would be, or whatever, we were just out to conquer Earth. Same with Union, Union was a little bit only because of the bands that we came from we kind of felt that we had a statement to make or whatever, so there was a little bit of pressure there as well. This has been easy because again at the end of the day everyone’s got other things that they’re doing and like David Lowy said at the very beginning when I met him in California, he goes “I don’t want to do this if it isn’t gonna be fun” and if you know David’s history you know that he doesn’t really need to do this… so he’s just like I love music, I love playing guitar, I love doing what I’m doing and I don’t want to do this if it’s not gonna be fun, and that’s it, that’s the one rule in this whole thing, just no stress, man, just have fun so there’s no real pressure for anything, it’s pretty awesome. As much as I’d love to pick up the phone and call every world leader and have peace on Earth and be able to call the president and solve global warming and figure out what’s happening with the rainforest and all that shit that we have to deal with every day, we’re just fuckin’ musicians man, we just play an A chord, put a melody on it and try to put a smile on somebody’s face for an hour, you know what I mean? So it shouldn’t be anything more than that.
Now, in terms of live shows we of course get to see you back here in October with KISS, what can we expect from a Dead Daisies show this year?
Just you know what dude, just energetic, loud, straight ahead rock and roll, no thrills, we’re here to have a good time, we want you to have a good time and hopefully we’re gonna go on stage and play a lot of great music that connects with people and gives them something to think about and puts a smile on their face, that’s it.
Are you guys still doing any of the covers?
yeah, we did in Cuba, but I don’t know how they are now in a situation like this, but they said when I first hooked up with them that they’ve done a few covers in the past, they’ve done ‘Hush’ by Deep Purple, ‘Alright Now’, ‘Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo’ and it’s weird, Richard and I were talking the other day, like ‘Dude, someday I want to do ‘Backdoor Man’ and I’m like ok, I’ve always wanted to do this, so it’s wide open, man. That was the thing, if you really go back and look at the bands we grew up with, Zeppelin did it, Grand Funk is one of my all-time favourite bands, fuck, they covered a Rolling Stones song, they covered ‘Locomotion’ and it was like ‘that’s a great song, let’s play it’, there’s too much thought now going into it, and that’s how this band is, I came into the band and when we started talking they said ‘well we do a song called ‘Evil’ by Cactus and I go ‘awesome, you know what song I want to do? Ever hear of a song called ‘Midnight Moses’ by Sensational Alex Harvey Band?’ so we looked it up and they were like dude this song is badass, so it’s just wide open and I love that, I love the fact that there is no thinking and dissecting it’s like fuck it, let someone else figure that out.
I do have to ask about Motley Crue as you were a part of the history and made my favourite album with them by the way…
It’s my favourite album by them as well *laughs hysterically*
So what are your thoughts on Motley Crue calling it quits?
You know what? They’ve obviously sold a shit tonne of records, they’ve toured the world many, many times, they’re still on top and why not, if you’re gonna go out, go out big and go out on top and go out smiling. The cool thing about it is they’re not gonna tour but they’re not gonna call it a day, so they’re kind of saying there will be music from Motley Crue they’re just not gonna play live, and I can see, look, none of us are getting any younger and obviously I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t know, the guys they don’t have the greatest chemistry and Mick who’s a dear friend of mine lives in Nashville now where I live and Mick’s health hasn’t been the greatest, so fuck it, call it a day, go out on top and you know what, when you guys feel like it, get together, write a couple of songs and put it out there for the fans and let them know that you’re still breathing.
Well we do love the MC94 record, we’d love you to come down and play it for us one day…
I’d love to, I would love to come down and it’s weird, even in America my manager a guy named Larry Morand and he was the one that kind of suggested the whole thing, Motley was out doing their thing and he kind of saw the reaction, Tommy did in his drum solo in the rollercoaster thing and right when he starts his drum solo it starts with ‘Hooligans Holiday’ and my manager was like ‘dude, the reaction was fuckin’ stupid in every city’. So he said you should get your guys and go learn that music again, and I didn’t realise he said it was the twentieth anniversary of that album, and after I yelled at him for making me feel incredibly old *laughs* I put the stuff together with my band, they did an amazing job, they dissected every part and we’ve been going out and it’s been stupid, the reaction that we’re getting, every place has been packed, I’m getting offers now for festivals, I’m doing the Monsters of Rock cruise, it’s just crazy. Now my manager has said there’s a promoter I think in Germany he’s got like eight or ten shows for me and he’s trying to… well I would love to, I’m hoping we can work something out. The problem is that coming here just for here, it’s pretty difficult so it’s gotta be some sort of Japan, hopefully hit a couple of different places here in the area, so hopefully.
Lastly, finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2015, The Dead Daisies will…
celebrate David Lowy’s birthday *laughs* I think he’s around the end of the year… well at the end of the year we will have put out a new album, toured Europe and toured Australia and hopefully with more and bigger, better things to come after that. I’m excited about it, man, I’ve played Europe with ESP and with Union, I’ve done the Swedish rock festival, but this is gonna be cool, touring with KISS, I know all the guys so this is gonna be fun, Eric Singer is a dear friend of mine, I know Tommy, Gene has been one of my biggest supporters all throughout my career, even before The Scream when I was in Angora he used to call me and give me advice and was trying to sign the band when he had Simmons Records, so he’s always been there. I know Paul, I’ve hung out with him a few times, but I don’t know him as well as the others, but it should be cool, it should be fun. The Daisies have a relationship with them already and in doing Download festival and apparently we’re playing on the same day as KISS, Motley so that should be cool seeing the guys, or at least I hope it will be… Slash is gonna be there, Fitzy’s there, but then some other bands like Backyard Babies, I know the guys from backyard Babies, so it’s gonna be cool. So we’ll see what happens…
Catch The Dead Daisies on these Tour Dates with KISS in Australia and New Zealand
Saturday, October 3 – PERTH Arena
Tuesday, October 6 – ADELAIDE Entertainment Centre
Thursday, October 8 – MELBOURNE Rod Laver Arena
Friday, October 9 – MELBOURNE Rod Laver Arena
Saturday, October 10 – SYDNEY AllPhones Arena
Monday, October 12 – NEWCASTLE Entertainment Centre
Tuesday, October 13 – BRISBANE Entertainment Centre
Friday, October 16 – AUCKLAND Vector Arena
From: All over the world
Band members: Marco Mendoza – Bass, Dizzy Reed – Keyboards, David Lowy – Guitars, Richard Fortus – Guitars, John Corabi – Vocals, Brian Tichy – Drums
Forthcoming release: Revolucion – (18th September – Spitfire Music)